by Sarah Prineas
Reading level: MG
Conn, a fiesty lockpick and thief, tries to steal a wizard's magic stone. He should have died when he touched it, but he didn't... and the wizard is intrigued.
Nevery, an old wizard, was exiled from Wellmet years earlier after a magical mishap. But he's been summoned back to the city to investigate the mysteriously waning magic. It's an important task because, without the sustaining force of the magic, Wellmet will die.
After Conn convinces Nevery to take him on as an apprentice, he must find his own locus magicalicus stone. But with the magic rapidly declining, there isn't much time. Conn must pursue his studies, find his stone, and avoid getting caught by the Underlord's minions, all while trying to stop whoever is stealing the magic.
It seems like I've been reading this book forever! I'm not really sure why it took me so long. It certainly wasn't boring.
I really enjoyed the voice of the narrator here. While the story does have some similarities with the Harry Potter series, the book is narrated in the first person by Conn, who uses some interesting turns of phrase. In this regard, it reminded me a bit of Ingrid Law's Savvy (another great middle-grade read with a fun narrator).
The story is a fairly basic one, about Conn and Nevery's attempts to discover who or what is behind the declining levels of magic in the city of Wellmet. The settings and characters are well realized and easy to picture (the map and illustrations help, of course).
There's really not much that I didn't enjoy, other than the fact that the illustrations tended to make my e-reader run rather slowly. But the book itself is great fun (and the beginning of a trilogy!), so I wouldn't hesitate to recommend it to middle-grade readers. Those who enjoyed the Harry Potter series and are looking for something similar should definitely give The Magic Thief a try.
Overall: 4 out of 5